Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ridvan 2018 - Part 3

Well, I've only got about 45 minutes to do this right now, but I figured I should be able to get through at least a couple more paragraphs, right? Let's find out.

Where were we? Oh, yes, paragraph 6.

Here we are learning that we are using our "new capacities... to improve conditions in society..." Hey, that's great. I mean, isn't this what it's all about? But then they use a word that always jumps out at me: "kindled". Our enthusiasm is kindled. I love that word. It means, as I'm sure you know, that it ignites a flame when there is none, or makes it burn brighter when there is one. In Ruhi Book 1, we learn that prayer kindles the soul. Here, it is our study of the divine teachings that kindles out enthusiasm.

Why would that be?

As I am sure you are aware, I don't actually know, but I suspect it is because enthusiasm is generally lost when hope vanishes. Hope usually disappears when we cannot see the next step in our journey. The Writings not only give us a vision of where we are heading, but also guide us to the next steps we need to take to get there. While we may not often see these next few steps on our own, by studying with others these steps become more apparent. And this, it seems to me, would naturally kindle our enthusiasm. After all, enthusiasm comes from the phrase "en-theos", "to be filled with God". Wouldn't the writings naturally fill us with that divine spirit?

Another point that catches my attention in this paragraph is the singular word "meaningful". They talk about "discourses that are meaningful to society". How often do we find ourselves engaged in conversations that are, in essence, meaningless? And if they are meaningless, why are we wasting our time with them?

This reminds me of something that struck Marcus Bach when he met Ruhiyyih Khanum. He said "She talked as though time and conversation were intended for the deepening of knowledge and faith." We often talk about "elevated conversations", but rarely what that looks like. I believe that this insight of his on her conversations sheds light on this word, "meaningful".

In this paragraph, the Universal House of Justice gives us examples of conversations that are meaningful, such as gender equality, the role of youth in social transformation, among others, and praise us for engaging in these discussions "with growing confidence, proficiency, and insight". It is, of course, likely a result of those practices from Ruhi Book 2. And we should be cognizant of the fact that we, as a community, are becoming ever more proficient in these conversations. We have made tremendous progress in the field, and knowing this should make it even easier to feel comfortable having these conversations to begin with. So, kudos to us, and thank you Universal House of Justice for helping direct our attention to this matter.

Finally, for today, paragraph 7. Ok, wow. I had the hardest time reading this for the first time, as I was reading it aloud to my wife, and had absolutely no clue what they were going to say. I mean, the stuff about the web-site was wonderful and exciting, but I wasn't ready for the wealth of new translations that they are promising. I actually choked as I was reading this. "...(P)reviously untranslated and unpublished passages or Tablets"? "(N)ew volumes of Baha'u'llah's and 'Abdu'l-Baha's Writings rendered into English"? It is so hard to contain my excitement.

But for now, I have to. I have another engagement in just a few minutes. (I thought I would get more written, but my wife got home just now, and I had to pause to welcome her home.)

Hopefully I'll have a chance to write a bit more tomorrow, or read a bit about what you have gleaned from this breath-taking letter.

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